Acrylic paint is a fantastic option for many projects, both personal and professional. It’s an easily available craft paint with tons of applications you can use for the best results. But what about painting your face and body? Can acrylic paint be used on skin?
Using acrylic paint on your skin is not recommended. Although it’s not terrible if non-toxic, water-based paint gets on your hands as you paint, craft paints are not safe for applying directly to the skin. Doing so could cause skin irritations and allergic reactions.
In this article, we’ll talk about the safety of acrylic paint for your skin. We’ll even show you the best face and body paints to use instead.
Can Acrylic Paint Be Used on Skin?
Acrylic paint is not ideal for the skin. You should not apply even non-toxic products to your skin.
The toxicity level of paint varies based on your age, gender, and how you use the paint. Non-toxic acrylics are not safe for everyone’s skin or wearing the paint long-term. If you get some paint on your arm or hand while painting, it’s safe as long as you wash it off soon. But you don’t want the paint to absorb into your skin.
So why don’t more people wear protective gloves when handling the paint? The reason people consider acrylic paints safe is due to the chemical makeup. They’re easy to wash off with soap and water while they’re wet. However, acrylic paint is no longer easily washable after it dries. If you paint your skin, you may need to peel it off. This could also cause skin trauma.
Is It Safe to Use Acrylic Paint on Skin?
So is acrylic paint safe on skin? Yes and no.
Acrylic paint is not as bad for your skin as oil-based paints, for example. But each person’s skin reacts differently. Young children and people with sensitive skin should keep acrylics from coming into contact with them by wearing nitrile-coated gloves.
Some diseases could also make you more susceptible to negative effects from the paint, such as eczema. Many people don’t even know how their skin may react. Studies show that skin diseases are among the fourth most common human illnesses, but most people don’t seek a physician’s help or even realize they have a problem.
Some acrylic brands also have chemicals that could irritate. It’s typically safe if the paint only touches your skin for a short time. However, the paint doesn’t have the ingredients needed to make it safe for skin application.
Overall, acrylics are not made for your skin. The paint hardens on the skin over time, becoming stiff and hard. Because it has no flexibility, your skin doesn’t have the room it needs to breathe or move. Painting your skin with acrylics could lead to irritation.
What Paints are Safe for Skin?
There are many other paints better suited for your skin. The following list includes the common types of body paints available today and their safety:
- Water-based: The safest choice for face and body paint, most water-based paints are well regulated and follow strict guidelines. Water-based paints emit less volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But they crack and rub off easily, making them less ideal for body painting.
- Metallic body paint: This type of body paint produces a shiny, metallic look. But use metallic paints with caution because they have real metal powder mixed in the paint known to cause irritation and contact dermatitis. Unless you need metallic paint for a performance, it’s best to avoid it.
- Alcohol-based: A paint common in special effects, alcohol-based paint is waterproof and great for hot, sunny locations. The paint doesn’t crack as you sweat, but it may rub off. The downside is that these paints don’t come off easily without rubbing alcohol, which can be toxic.
- Latex body paint: Liquid latex is a body paint common among cosplayers and costume design. Compared to other body paints, latex doesn’t leave residue behind. However, you should make sure you don’t have a latex allergy and never use the paint in extreme heat. Otherwise, you may cause heat stroke or damage your skin.
- Henna: A traditional body paint, henna has been used for special events in Asian and African cities for years. The paint comes from plant dye, staining the skin a red or brown shade. It’s safe for children and adults, causing no negative effects. The temporary paint fades over time on its own, but you can remove it faster by exfoliating.
- Commercial bodypaint: Some companies mass-produce non-toxic body paint in spray bottles or containers. They include some of the safest body paints today because they don’t contain latex. However, test out various types to make sure they work well for your skin.
- Body painting markers: Markers made with body painting in mind are non-toxic and safe for adults or kids. Always check the label, however. Some brands are not ideal for every region of your body.
The best paint for body or face painting is a brand designed for the skin. Commercial body paints and markers are the safest for all ages.
That said, make sure to always double-check. Everyone reacts differently. Apply the paint to a small area of your skin and wait a few minutes to see if it irritates before applying it to a large surface area. It’s the best way to know if the paint is right for you.
Can You Put Acrylic Paint on Your Face?
The skin on your face is more susceptible. Never use it as an alternative to face paint.
You could develop rashes or allergic reactions to acrylic paint, especially on your face. Even if the paint is water-based and non-toxic, it can be difficult to wash off your skin. Peeling the paint off could cause skin irritation and pull tiny hairs from your face.
Avoid Using Acrylic Paint for Face Painting
Instead of acrylic paint, use paint specifically designed for face painting. There are many types of safe face paints in stores to choose from, so look for water-based face paint. These are typically easier to remove.
Can You Put Acrylic Paint on Your Hands?
Acrylics are not for application on any part of your skin, including your hands. Never apply acrylic paint to your child’s hands for craft projects or paint your hands. If you get paint on your hands, wash it off as soon as possible.
Always wash your hands after working with acrylic paint. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission points out that the skin could absorb paint chemicals, and even small exposures can harm your health over time.
Acrylic Paint on Body
Body painting is an age-old tradition. Tribes would apply paint for wars and rituals. Today, body paint is a fun addition to birthday parties, cosplay events, concerts, and theater events. There are tons of ways to decorate the human body with paint, and the best part is that the effects are not permanent.
However, not all body paint is safe for your skin. It’s important to use the right options to avoid causing irritation or damage. Acrylic paint isn’t ideal body paint. Not only is it not great for your skin, but the paint also doesn’t perform well as body paint. It cracks and hurts to remove.
Face and Body Painting Step-by-Step Instructions
After you purchase hypoallergenic, waterproof paint made for your face or body, you can get started. Here’s a quick guide to face and body painting.
Step 1: Compile Your Tools
In addition to face and body paints, you’ll need a few tools like brushes and sponges in varying sizes. You may also need water, a spray bottle, and wet wipes for cleaning mistakes as you work. Some people also like to use stencils, stickers, or glitter for added effects.
Step 2: Prepare Your Skin
When you have all your tools ready, prepare your skin for application. Make sure your skin is clean and dry. Look at reference pictures or tutorials to figure out how you want to paint yourself.
What you choose to paint may vary based on the event or your needs. Some common options include:
- Flowers and leaves
- Animals and animal prints
- Butterfly or fairy wings
- Cartoon characters
Step 3: Start Painting
Painting the face or body is different from painting on a stable surface like canvas. You’ll need to paint around the body’s natural curves and crevices. Follow the directions on your paint bottle for the best results.
Painting with Your Body on Canvas
Today, another common art project is to use your body to apply the paint to a canvas instead of a paintbrush. Art projects like this are a fun and creative way to switch things up. While you can use your body to apply the paint to the canvas, remember that acrylic paint is still not entirely safe for your skin.
You’ll want to complete your project quickly and wash the paint off as soon as possible for safety. Make sure the paint you use is an acrylic brand that’s safe for children or fingerpaints as well, as these are often a bit safer.
How to Wash Acrylic Paint off Skin
Unlike water-based body paints, which come off easily with your hands or a towel, acrylic paint can be more difficult to remove. Even washable paints are hard to wash off.
Remove acrylic paint from your skin by:
- Washing with soap and lukewarm water, lathering the soap thoroughly
- Lightly scrape at the paint using your fingernails
- Rinse thoroughly
If washing with soapy water doesn’t work, you may need to peel the paint or scrub using another product. You could try using natural things like mayonnaise, canola oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, or baby oil to remove the paint faster.
Best Face Paint
There are many hypoallergenic and FDA-approved paints on the market that you can use on your skin. Here are some of the best skin-safe paints for face painting.
Best Body Paint
Like face paints, the best body paints you can buy are created with your skin in mind. Some of the body paints listed below are industry favorites among makeup artists and cosplayers alike.
Using acrylic paints on your skin is a terrible idea, even if you use water-based and non-toxic brands. Avoid them in favor of a paint type made specifically with the skin in mind. The FDA approves them, so they’re safe for the skin and shouldn’t cause irritation.
What face and body paint will you try next? Please share your favorite brands in the comments, and let us know how these paints worked for you. If you found our tips about the safety of acrylic paint on skin helpful, please share the article with your friends and loved ones as well.